This weekend we were again in Castle Hernen and I took the opportunity to test several new recipes. The dishes were only made for our lunch and the following afternoon. The castle closes at 17:00 and there is not a good place to prepare dinner. Therefore, the new recipes had to be prepared beforehand at home. One of the new recipes which tasted (and looked) very well was Saffron Bread. The recipe came from 'Das Mittelalter Kochbuch' of Hannele Klementtilä. This book is a German translation of an English translation of a Finnish book. To make it more complicated, the recipe was taken by the author from a French medieval cookbook 'Gastronomie du Moyen Age' by Josy Marty-Dufaut. She (hopefully) took the recipe from a medieval source. Anyway, this sweet bread tastes good. You can describe it as something between cake and brioche.
The just baked Saffron Bread.
Saffron was a luxury spice during medieval times and held in high esteem by the aristocracy. During the plague, the price for saffron was 45 times as high as today’s premium price. Nowadays, it still is a luxury spice; the highest quality yields 25,000 Euro/kg (the gold price is 45,000 Euro/kg). Saffron has a subtle aroma and taste, and colours your food with a golden colour (no wonder why it was appreciated by the nobility). Luckily, you only need a very little amount for your dish (and we were even more lucky with friends giving us some small boxes of it).
Two boxes of saffron. Some pepper kernels are given for size comparison.
Ingredients (for two loafs)
- 500 g fine flour
- 250 ml warm water
- 17 gram yeast ( instead I used 2 sachets dry yeast dissolved for some time in handwarm applejuice with a bit of salt)
- 90 gram cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 50 ml olive oil
- 1.5 eggs (or 1 medium and 1 small egg)
- some saffron threads
Left: the loafs resting under a sheet of household plastic in a sunny spot of the house. Right: the marble tile in the oven with the saffron bread loafs.
Add the yeast to the warm water and add the saffron, salt, olive oil, eggs and flour to it. Knead it to a dough and let it rest for around one hour. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. We placed a marble tile on the lowest rack in our oven and preheated it for at least half an hour - the bread will then have a crust similarity comparable to the medieval stone oven (the marble tile is also ideal for pizza). Divide the dough into two loafs and let them rest for a while. Place the loafs in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. When cut, the bread has a marvellously golden colour.
The baked saffron bread.
Some slices of the saffron bread. You can see the nice golden colour of the inside of the loaf.